Sunday, March 1, 2009

JPPSS Legislative Working Session

The Legislative Committee for the Jefferson Parish School System met on Friday, February 27th. In attendance were several of our distinguished school board members, a school board attorney, teacher's union representatives and me.

I entered in on a discussion between members and the Mrs. Alida Wyler, the Director of Health Services, about the necessity to have trained and willing staff to address the medical care of special needs children. This then transitioned into a discussion of the responsibilities and training associated with the impending installation of AEDs, automated external defibrillators.

The majority of the meeting time was used to engaged in discussions of Governor Bobby Jindal's proposals for the school systems. He is looking for systems statewide to address three issues: 1. Discipline, 2. Charter school improvements and, 3. "Value Added" testing and assessment. Most of the details behind the Governor's proposals require consideration of financial cutbacks and targeted spending particularly within the minimum foundation programs (MFPs) that are perceived as being supported by a "Block" grant and that its spending could be tailed for better returns.

The Governor's Proposals:

1. To address discipline in schools the main focus is to engage more parents and make them aware of the problems associated with students who disrupt class(es) or who become truants and never show up. The proposal seeks to go so far as to make parents accountable for their children's actions. Novel idea?

2. Charter schools from faith based establishments reporting to the public school system should be considered as a way of relieving the financial burdens of educating the large number students in the various communities around the state. Faith based charters in the public system have legal and social implications that may be difficult for the school board to control and that would make the ACLU curious.

3. Valued Added assessment and teaching as proposed should reflect a student's individual improvement from year to year and not just the student's performance verses the district or national average. This would encourage students who have significantly improved although still at or below the minimum requirements.

It was an interested meeting. Gene Katsanis and Jennifer Toupes? kept the meeting flowing and engaging on each topic. Hope to encounter many more sessions as I believe this is truly were policies get considered and legislation gets introduced in Baton Rouge that effects Jefferson Parish education for all children.

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